Tomorrow Clare and Aidan head to colleges at opposite ends of the country, leaving just 12 hours to decide whether to break up now or, as they fear, to allow distance and change to do it for them—either way, it’s going to be a long night.
Clare, one of nature’s planners, has crafted an agenda for this last night, a sentimental road trip through their past. Easygoing Aidan favors a spontaneous “let’s not overthink this” approach but, as usual, cheerfully accommodates her. As the hours pass, each goes through multiple changes alone, together, and with friends and family. Friendships come unglued, secrets are revealed, and the unexpected occurs. A party, jail, and an icy nighttime swim find their ways onto the itinerary. For Clare and Aidan it’s a literally bruising experience. While theirs is a niche slot in the greater social strata (white, middle-class, small-town teens unburdened by catastrophe or major social ills), the challenges they grapple with are universal: adapting to change, choosing what to keep and what to let go, and taking responsibility for the outcome. Testing the limits and durability of youthful romance across separation and distance is a common theme in Smith’s work, which relies on high-concept storytelling; what keeps it fresh and on the literary side of the genre are engaging, closely observed characters, Clare and Aidan among them, portrayed with such intimate, intense authenticity that readers too feel invested in their choices.
Another smart and savvy book to add to Smith’s oeuvre. (Fiction. 12-18)